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Welcome to the deep end,
Glad To Have You Here
...where we find shorter spaces between us.
-- Bobby Ocean

Monday, February 13, 2012


Listeners Lose Their Invisible Friends

Got an email from old pal Ron Parker (KFRC, 90s) who is now in New York City, working with the same Program Director that was his boss here on the West Coast just a decade or so ago.

Ron's on the air and sounding great. But his mind is not at ease. He sends along the following, as a Head's-UP Alert.  Just in case I didn't know:
It won't come as a shock to the thousands that have felt the sting of radio's downsizing -- but it still hurts to see it in print. CBS MONEY WATCH asks, "Will these 10 jobs disappear in 2012?" -- and 'Broadcast Announcer' is #6 on the list.

Reports CBS, "It may come as no surprise that the job of newspaper reporter is going the way of the buggy whip maker -- but have placed some unexpected occupations on the endangered species list as well. Using statistics from THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS' Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-2011, we identified 10 of the most surprising job categories whose numbers are projected to shrink in the coming years, plus a few that will grow so slowly that you might as well be sending your resume to GREECE for a civil service job."
        1. Judge
        2. Fashion designer
        3. Insurance underwriter
        4. Travel agent
        5. Newspaper reporter
        6. Broadcast announcer (yikes!)
        7. Plant manager
        8. Chemist
        9. Economist
        10. CEO
Regarding the loss of broadcast jobs, CBS writes "The play-by-play for this occupation isn't pretty. Consolidation has eliminated many jobs already, and technology is hijacking off-air tasks, such as editing, once performed by announcers (and future announcers paying their dues). Add the increased use of syndication and the growth of satellite radio and the picture is even bleaker. By 2018, broadcasting is expected to lose 2,400 radio and TV announcer jobs."
No, not a bit surprised. I know. Been watching, Ronnie. Heck, these jobs weren't even invented until about a half dozen years before I decided I wanted to be a Disc Jockey. I remember thinking, "what an awkward phrase, 'disc jockey.' Couldn't they come up with something better than that?"   
No, not surprised at all. I know the flow, having been watching this ugly, mismotivated scenario for quite a patch of time now.

I feel like some Time Crusader who saw it coming, was well aware of it and am well prepared to deal with it in a number of ways whenever I choose. But, we ARE talking about a small niche in an immeasurable flow.

Still, it was a rich one. Memories alone ensure, without exception, that swinging those mighty swords was a thrill. Still is, just in a different arena. Using those timeless methods of mastery, honed to razor's edge perfection on professional broadcast radio, once again proves be quite a gleeful run of fun.

That's what radio has always been, for most of us, certainly me - fun. Fun was a byproduct of the way we worked. Whenever fear is felt in the work place, it is poison and must be removed. You can hear fun on the air. Fear, on the other hand, has a boring 'sameness.'

In time's passage, while that fun job of being a DJ may disappear, the skills involved are still relevant online (in almost every working environment, from Sales Presentations to Web Image and Presence) and still as enjoyable and rewarding as they ever were. Still fun. That's great news.

Funny how the word 'fun' seems to make Those In Charge, at broadcasting facilities, with no experience in Show Biz or Presence, squeamish. It's their minds; can't process the notion of 'fun' and it kills 'em. Maybe it's the part about the magic...

It's a natural thing, fun, to the types of people that sing on their airwaves, natural to those who were fans and listened, who used to know all about the hits, artists, eras and labels. They knew the industry and it showed. They became DJs. They were the perfect compliment to the product. It was fun for them. But I guess they neglected to give the new radio station owner the User's Manual. Programming: It's Not as Easy As It Sounded. Fun is a required ingredient. You practice until it all hits the right tone and flow, or it's no fun.

So, while the Rulers of Frequencies Without Entertainment Experience were watching, without looking, at a football game and half-time show, Show Biz Masters naturally looked deeper and experienced, at once, a multitude of different planes and relative merits, say, between a Micheal Jackson or Madonna presentation during the Half Time show during the Super Bowl. Experienced in showmanship, words are near irrelevant as they they don't miss much, immediately recognizing patterns, meshing Jacjson's recent DVD release, This Is It, with what they see unfolding between the end of the second and the start of the third quarter. Instantaneously, wordlessly, they intuit the similarities, the matching Marching Uniformed Bands, the Industry Overtaking Nature recurring Themes, the hyper choreography, extreme Fashionista leadership, uncanny synchronous lighting, freezes, fantasy mechanical devices, elevator trap doors, smoke, steam and motherboards.

Both, in front of the flat screen, are Humans, both claim broadcasting as their vocation, both are temporal creatures, obsessed with the shifting nature of the world and the flux of their own imagined self. One type knows show biz and saw a spectacular, the other does not and did not.

It would seem beneficial, even joyously remunerative, for Those Who Do Not Know Winning Ways to become friends with Those Who Do Know And Have Experience In The Practice Of Winning Ways. But this has not been the case.

Having been shown no loyalty, time for the winners to proceed. Those Who Do Know And Have Experience do not desert radio; they may become clients. If they ask nicely and their checks don't bounce.

Now, with the economy reflecting fearful changes on a global scale, Those Of Us Who Know Winning Ways Without Boundries, take an unintentioned small sense of security from those Gloom And Doom Forecasts by aiming our energies at what works, commands attention and heals. We do this, firm in the knowledge that our amazing planet still works, is still rotating, remaining in motion and growing. Aside from knowing this, we give it little thought. The movie is still rolling.

What, really, can one think about magic; hard to talk about, contradicts itself, cannot be explained. How is it that the rotation of a planet is there? On the other hand, if one can be comfortable in the knowledge that there's more here than can be explained; if one can be realize "all of these things are done through me by the Father; by myself, I can do nothing," and be OK with it, things can really get wonderful. As in 'beyond description' wonderful.

Every denizen is well aware that, into our world has come still another high tech, obsessively interesting, useful and fun spin-off. We have been given a voice that can be heard around the world, effortlessly. This is no small feat. It's not unlike a wonderful, fantasy movie script in which the few lucky heroes mysteriously receive a gift from future generations. The few lucky ones include those smart enough to read a blog, like yourself.

Special Effects, Too:
Everyone in this movie has the same, unbeleivable, global set of communication systems, just like the Star Trek Communicator, putting into play previously impossible scenes and circumstances, saturated with endless possibilities for fun and genuinely lucrative and helpful enterprizes. We can communicate with and receive data from anywhere in the dense interwoven nooks and plains of this vast earthen ball of organic sticks and stones and blood and bones.

This seemingly delusional make-believe "movie" we find ourselves in almost requires a willing suspension of belief and disbelief, in order that one's awareness may simply follow that last bit of unbelievability along, unhindered. To do that, take out your Smart Phone, keep the faith.

Faith means there is no script proceeding us. The movie is a "happening," and it's spontaneously occurring all at once, as if in direct defiance of everything logical. Go with that.

The part of "Radio" in this further act of the movie is not played by Cuba Gooding, but by many million. They go by the name, "Online Marketing" (awkward name, but fun) and all the deft tricks, styles and proceedures we learned for effective measurable success in competitive pro broadcast battles are also viable here online. ReTweet THAT.

We can use all the tools we became adept with on the air to make any story: first good, then better, and better. In this parallel, multi-task profession, no skills are lost, all values are still available and afresh. Find another like yourself, watch your collective power grow; Three, you have a team.

As a team, you can overcome many. Especially the less experienced. From this (your) vision, you now have the credibility and satisfaction only a winner can feel. You HAVE past rating victories, experience. You'll be taking the clients of those who don't, right? What is it you see in your competition?

One weak spot after another.


Is it sad, pitiful, or just spectacle, that, for the most part, Corporate Radio Broadcasting, has an almost official policy, no longer recognizes the power, sales dynamics and value of "Talent" kicked off the ship? Is not any policy of "no longer recognizing" something, good, bad or otherwise, a Policy of Deliberate Ignorance?

A clearer vision might reveal how obstructed the non-broadcaster's vision is, blinded by a combination of fear and the prospect of faking a win, Impressing The Shareholders with a few Saved-Dollar Figures, which, in fact, fare much worse for stock bearers than show hosts. So elated in finding a noteworthy statistic in the debris left behind after getting rid of a living person in favor of a recorded talking device, the owners lost their face.

Couldn't be worse for the radio station. Grade school business classes tell you to "put a face on your product." That's why frosted flakes and gasoline have a tiger mascot and why you see a chihuahua selling tacos on TV. Yet, across this fruited plain, radio station owners have lost their only human relatable asset, their common ground between product and buyer, their face.

It also works out that they lost it in the other sense of the phrase. No face equals no trust. Not a great spot to be in when your business, Show Business, is located in the heart of the Social Media Marketplace, and all your prior listeners know you fired life-long employees just to make your numbers look good. The listeners still remember the names of those you fired while you've already forgotten. Not really the reputation you want in today's on-line on air listenership. Good thing this is just an analogy, isn't your radio station. Gad that would be a disaster.

This very turn of events is hardly a world-ender for the discarded DJs. There ARE a multitude of ways to take the many things learned in broadcasting and leverage them online. For myself and a few other Online Marketers that have roots in radio, it will be fairly easy - and much fun - to woo unhappy broadcast clients away from any radio stations we choose to plunder and enlist them in our Online Ventures. My studies (two concentrated years now and still churning) indicate I can see a double - even quadruple - of my client's investment. Radio Sales people cannot make that call. Especially today's unprofessional lot.
Fun is just what we all need right about here. Tell ya a story...

In this story I feel more like a piece of a too-large-for-logic picture than a limited being, or person. There, the pieces and the players' game board, rather than a player. I have no other stake in this than to watch it all unfold. I've learned how to look deeper than the limits of logic. What I know and see make this story a little more understandable, give it a bit more dimension and enable me to sense the underlying fun.

Until a few months ago, I had been working at a top rated station in San Francisco; worked there for three years or so - part time, just keeping my headphones limber, did it for fun mostly. I had really accomplished all I was after in the profession to this point, but was asked to join the already number one rated station staff by its then PD, who steadfastly wanted to continue forward with an all-pro, seamless presentation. That also was fun. This was a gentleman, not a politiko, and made the air time seem more like playing, than working. He had kept the station ranked in Popularity's Top Three forever, something like 15 years or more, I lose track it's a record set so unbelievably high, no one else could touch the accomplishment. It was fun being Number One so much of the time.

This Programmer's ongoing Ways Of Winning made everyone's assignment, even Sales, a task without effort. It was fun.

In the past few months, the corporate owners, relatively new to the business (with an awful track record: don't look up Entercom in Sacramento if you want the owners to remain happy and appear unblemished. There was a listener death involved) have fired dozens of major market, professional, honestly contributing, hard working souls, then heaped their duties upon those remaining. Misinformation was spread to divide any sense of being a team. I have watched a great radio station cease to be itself, lose the spark that made it entertaining and become a studio of equipment babysitters, a playlist repeater, an Automatron Reciter of empty slogans and a third rate organization.

San Francisco is this corporation's first attempt in a metropolis this large. Here, they immediately and unceremoniously fired the P.D., and his most trusted, efficient cadre. Then went the top salaried jocks. Next the money-focused out-of-towner corporation brought in a stranger from Louisianna, who, it might be assumed, will work for a fourth the salary, and has no sense of this slice of geography. Will the things that worked in the Mardi Gras capitol work as well on the Barbary Coast? We shall see.

Me, I never heard from that station again. They didn't even possess the common courtesy to say "adios," nor I the curiosity to see what they even looked, smelled or sounded like beyond what I already knew.  No fun.

THAT kind of attitude and conduct has been going on all over town and all over the nation, at practically every radio station. It is a perfect reflection of the way broadcasting has devolved, during our watch, across our land. Expect to be treated as more of a liability than an asset yourself. If you have any business with the people in charge of what was your favorite station today, which ever one it was, just don't expect it to be anything like it was even six months ago.

And, or course, Slam-Jam Sally and Rock-a-Bobby Pipeflames are missing, too. They're either right behind you in the Unemployment Line, or somewhere in front.

Sad, again, kinda. That a once indomitable station of San Francisco caliber and status now seems headed in the same downward spiral as another, once thought unbeatable, station has gone just a decade hence. And another and another. If you have the patience to look, they're all where stations that can no longer serve their audiences end up, at the very bottom of the ratings heap. And, there's very little fun there.

These new corporate radio owners and their tassled leather mocassin and matching shirt-tie wearing lords and lackies have no experience in large cities, especially this city. Boy, is that (going to be) audible. If there is any entertainment to be had in this wierd experiment, it will certainly be in watching them pretend to know what they're even doing here, and then enjoying their decisions. Decisions always make their way onto the airwaves.

Non-broadcast owners and their chosen crew remind me of insects in a way. They have just one thing one their tiny no-frills agenda and it's not even their idea. These crawlies have a Head somewhere and they act on the shared impulse to make that head happy. They MUST make that head happy. It's that or join the ranks of unemployed.

Very soon, it will be theirs to ponder, "Why in the world, in our one chance, did we think our listeners would settle for two dimensional recital when they had already experienced dynamic three-D? Easy. We thought that, by keeping the Head happy. we were clever businessmen. We all were later fired by the Head..."

San Francisco and Northern California deserve better. All of America deserves better.

In the meantime, as a former disc jockey of near enough to 50 years to comfortably call it that, may I, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of on-air broadcasters who, because of "the forces of modernity" didn't or won't have the opportunity themselves, say, "goodbye," and "thanks!" The feeling of knowing someone like you was listening, filled a huge hole in my hitch-hiking soul.

"And, thanks for the tuna."



Do I have to? said...

Hey Bobby, It's Robin-Bobbie :) with a new avatar!
This survey is for the sheep...as far as radio is concerned. Unless they mean the demand may change but I don't think these guys are that smart. Do they mean we are not going to be listening to jocks? Or it will be all robo-jocks? Even these guys don't consider the Web broadcasters. It would be more relevant to predict that the career of Broadcaster is changing, not going away.

Do I have to? said...

I had a very wise comment typed in but as usual, Blogger has been a sign-in nightmare for me since day one and it was lost.

signed, Robin_Solis